‘I’m on optometrist – here are the first signs of the most common eye cancer’

Detect childhood eye cancer with your smart phone

There are different types of cancer than can affect the eye including, ocular melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, retinoblastoma (detected in early childhood with 90 percent of children being cured) and lymphoma.

You can also get skin cancers surrounding the eye (basal cell carcinoma, squamous skin cell carcinoma).

The most common eye cancer, according to Dr Nabila Jones, optometrist and research associate at Optegra eye hospital group, is ocular melanoma.

She explained: “This can occur on the inside of the eye (uveal/ choroidal melanoma) or on the outside on the conjunctiva a membrane that sits on the white part of the eye (conjunctival melanoma).”

There can be no symptoms, warned Dr Jones, but first signs can include the following:

  • Blurry vision
  • Flashes of lights
  • A new dark area
  • A lump

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As the cancer progresses, the lumps and dark patches can continue to grow, advised Dr Jones.

The eye can also bulge and become misshapen and partial or total vision loss can occur.

Dr Jones continued: “There are some symptoms that can be mistaken for other conditions that are less serious (you can get flashing lights with migraines for example).

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“However, it is very important to visit your local optometrist or GP if you have any new symptoms (such as flashing lights) or any signs or symptoms that are concerning you.

“It is also important to visit your optometrist for an eye health check every two years, or yearly if advised.

“Importantly always remember to wear sunglasses when out in strong sunlight.”

Around 850 cases of eye cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year.

According to the NHS, for people with eye cancer in England:

  • 95 out of every 100 (95 percent) will live at least 1 year after diagnosis
  • 70 out of every 100 (70 percent) will live at least 5 years after diagnosis
  • 60 out of every 100 (60 percent) will live at least 10 years after diagnosis

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